|St. Joseph Lodge (IL) Yup, a century later it's still there.|
At some point, Masons got tired of not having a permanent home, and probably got tired of paying rent to the taverns they met in, so they began building their own lodges. Of course, the question was--how are we going to pay for it, and how are we going to sustain it? That's when the entrepreneurial spirit of Freemasonry kicked in--we've always had that resource. We have always had the reputation of attracting very industrious members. The solution to that problem may go back to how they began--meeting in rented rooms over public houses. Who knows who did it first--but at some point, Masons realized it was better to be the landlord than the tenant. There are probably tens of thousands of examples that demonstrate this still in existence today. Masons built their lodges on the second floor, usually in a commercial area of town, and rented out the first floor to the local mercantile merchant, barkeep, restaurant, or apothecary.
|The Gryphon Tea Room, Savannah, GA|
Few customers know there's a
Masonic Temple upstairs.
I've written about a few of these places in my novels--in my novel One Last Shot, my protagonist, Levi Garvey used to visit the Gryphon Tea Room, when he lived in Savannah, Georgia, and mentioned that right upstairs was the place where he became a Mason. Now that's fiction, but both of those places are real. I've been there. I've had tea at the Gryphon, and toured the Savannah Scottish Rite Temple--while I was still an Entered Apprentice myself. In my second novel A Shot After Midnight, one of these 100-year-old lodges in a small town was being restored in the background of the main story--that was based on a true story as well.
|Savannah Scottish Rite Temple entrance.|
And while that learning was going on upstairs, the rented space downstairs often housed businesses that helped build the communities they were in. These simple buildings and the men that met there, and businesses that hung their shingle on Main Street were often the incubator for towns, cities and villages that are still around today.
|Just look up--sometimes the signs are|
just over your head.
~Todd E. Creason
This piece was originally published 8/24/12